More to ignore, Book 102...

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Criminal trial of the Trump Organization on tax fraud charges set to begin Monday

Charles Jay

There’s been so much focus on whether Donald Trump will be indicted for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection and for stashing top secret documents at his Mar-a-Lago home that it’s easy to overlook that his namesake organization is set to go on trial Monday in a Manhattan courtroom on charges of tax fraud and other crimes.

Trump and his children were not indicted themselves and don’t face any jail time. But the trial could hurt the Trump family business which owns hotels, golf courses, and commercial and residential buildings around the world.

The New York Times wrote:

The trial in State Supreme Court will present an embarrassing scene for the former president, pushing to the forefront one of several criminal investigations swirling around him.
This case centers on special perks doled out by the former president’s business, the Trump Organization, which comprises a universe of more than 500 corporate entities. Last year, the district attorney’s office accused two of those entities — The Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp. — of awarding off-the-books benefits like rent-free apartments and leased luxury vehicles to a few top executives who failed to pay taxes on the perks.
As jury selection begins on Monday, the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, appears to have the upper hand. The Trump Organization’s 75-year-old chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, recently pleaded guilty to conspiring with the two corporations to carry out the scheme — and agreed to testify at their trial.”
“Having the company’s top financial officer as your star witness is a prosecutor’s dream,” said Daniel J. Horwitz, a former prosecutor in the district attorney’s office who is now a partner at McLaughlin and Stern, where he defends corporations in white collar crime cases.


Last year, prosecutors charged Weisselberg with receiving about $1.76 million in undisclosed compensation over a 15-year period — including rent on his Manhattan apartment, leased luxury cars and private school tuition for his grandchildren — enabling him to evade paying nearly $1 million in taxes. and evaded nearly a million dollars in taxes. Weisselberg and the Trump companies were charged with a scheme to defraud, conspiracy, tax fraud and falsifying business records.

In August, Weisselberg pleaded guilty to all 15 of the charges he faced in the indictment. Under the plea deal, Weisselberg would receive a five-month prison sentence, which could be reduced to three months for good behavior. He also agreed to pay nearly $2 million in taxes and penalties.

In return, Weisselberg is required to testify in the criminal trial of the Trump companies. If he refuses to cooperate or lies in his testimony, prosecutors have said they will revoke the plea agreement which could result in a 15-year prison sentence.
The Washington Post wrote that the please agreement limits the proposed scope of Weisselberg’s testimony.


He is only supposed to testify about his own criminal conduct and may be able to avoid discussing Trump directly.
Through those admissions, prosecutors believe they will prove the criminal liability transfers to Weisselberg’s employer. Prosecutors in the past tried unsuccessfully to get Weisselberg to cooperate against Trump, people with knowledge of the discussions previously told The Post. Those people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The New York Times reported that lawyers for the Trump companies will argue that Weisselberg “went behind the Trump family’s back to avoid paying taxes on the perks, and was not conspiring with the company.”

“Weisselberg’s acts were done to benefit himself and not done to benefit the company and we expect to show that at trial and be acquitted,” one of the company’s lawyers, Susan R. Necheles. told The Times.

The lawyers might also argue that Weisselberg agreed to testify under duress to avoid a stiff prison sentence.
Trump himself has predictably called the prosecution a ‘witch hunt” by liberal Democrats.
Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissman tweeted that if Trump’s lawyers go after Weisselberg it could backfire.



And that’s where things get interesting. The Trump Organization is close-knit with only a handful of people authorized to make decisions. Can Weisselberg avoid implicating Trump, if a prosecutor asks him who authorized the tax evasion scheme and signed the checks for the perks.

If convicted, the Trump Organization could be fined up to $1.6 million — a mere pittance. The Trump Organization’s reputation might take a further hit and lenders might be even warier of providing more money, but that’s already been happening.

But evidence provided during the trial about the inner workings of the Trump organization should be of interest to state and federal prosecutors investigating Trump’s business dealings.

“I imagine the New York Attorney General’s office will be paying close attention to find any overlap between their civil case against Donald Trump,” Barbara McQuade, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School and a former federal prosecutor, told Time. “Evidence used in this trial would be of interest to the [Attorney General’s] office.”

Last month, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a $250 million civil lawsuit against Trump, his three oldest children, his company and senior management, including Weisselberg over Trump’s alleged practice of manipulating the value of his assets. He is suspected of raising their value to deceive lenders to obtain more favorable loan terms, and lowering their value for tax benefits.

In August, Trump sat for a deposition in James’ office and invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination more than 400 times.

James also said she had sent a criminal referral to federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the Internal Revenue Service that her office believed it had uncovered federal crimes by Trump and others, including bank fraud and lying to financial institutions.

Shortly after taking office as New York County D.A., succeeding Cyrus Vance Jr., Bragg balked at charging Trump in the criminal investigation of how he valued his assets on annual financial statements. Bragg’s decision halted a presentation of evidence to a grand jury and led to the resignation of two senior prosecutors in his office.

Bragg recently said that his criminal investigation of Trump is “active and ongoing,” according to The New York Times.
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday for the second time in three days and held a flurry of calls with three other counterparts from NATO countries.

Moscow provided no details on the conversation with Austin, which came after the two men spoke on Friday for the first time since May. Its readouts on the other calls said Shoigu had said the situation in Ukraine was worsening.

"They discussed the situation in Ukraine which is rapidly deteriorating," the Russian defence ministry said of Shoigu's call with French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu. "It is trending towards further uncontrolled escalation."

Shoigu spoke separately to Turkey's defence minister, Hulusi Akar, and Britain's Ben Wallace......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Georgia's abortion ban goes to court as judge shuts down state’s request to delay arguments

Rebekah Sager

Georgia abortion rights activists are back in court Monday, arguing against enforcing the state’s restrictive HB 481, aka the fetal “heartbeat” bill. Pro-choice advocates say the bill denies Georgians their right to privacy guaranteed by the state constitution.

According to The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC), the state has repeatedly requested that the trial this week be canceled or delayed due to the proximity of the Nov. 8 election. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney has denied the request.

“The state has offered four reasons for this ‘cancellation,’ which can be summarized as ‘We are really busy with other things,’ ‘There are no facts in dispute,’ ‘We don’t know what facts are in dispute,’ and ‘You can’t do what you are trying to do,’ ” McBurney wrote, per the AJC. “The court’s response, detailed below, can be summarized as ‘Who isn’t?,’ ‘There are,’ ‘You do,’ and ‘I can.’ ”
.......
In July a federal court of appeals allowed the law to take effect, and in August McBurney denied a request to end the enforcement of the bill, at least while the case is still being argued.

The law restricts abortion after a clinician is able to detect fetal cardiac activity, usually around six weeks, and before most women even know that they’re pregnant. Worse, as Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter reports, that “heartbeat” isn’t even a heartbeat:

It certainly doesn't have a heart or a heartbeat at six weeks. It has cells that are starting to organize. What can be detected at six weeks is not a heart. “At six weeks, the embryo is forming what will eventually develop into mature systems. There’s an immature neurological system, and there’s a very immature cardiovascular system." The rhythmic sound that can be heard is "a group of cells with electrical activity. That's what the heartbeat is at that stage of gestation … We are in no way talking about any kind of cardiovascular system." That's all from Jennifer Kerns, an OB-GYN at the University of California, San Francisco, and director of research in obstetrics and gynecology at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

But “pro-life” politicians and talking heads don’t care about the facts. “Our job is to do what is right, not what is easy,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has said. “We are called to be strong and courageous, and we will not back down.”

The law was put on hold until Dobbs was ruled—throwing the law back onto the shoulders of the Georgia Supreme Court. The state’s law went into effect following the decision in June by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the landmark 1973 ruling in favor of Roe v. Wade.

Abortion rights groups, many of whom sued the state in 2019 over the bill, are now pursuing the suit in Fulton County Superior Court, the AJC reports.

Although Georgia’s constitution offers more rights of personal privacy than the U.S. Constitution, lawyers in favor of the bill will argue that “abortion always harms a third party,” the AJC reports.

“People don’t think of Georgia as progressive, but we have some of the strongest privacy protections,” state senator and Democratic candidate for attorney general Jen Jordan said.

Jordan is referring to a ruling made in 1905 in favor of artist Paolo Pavesich, who filed a suit against New England Mutual Life Insurance for invasion of privacy after the company failed to get his permission for an advertisement using his image. Pavesich won the suit, and the Georgia courts became the first in the nation to have laws on the books protecting personal privacy.

Jordan told the AJC that if she’s elected, she will file a suit using Georgia’s privacy laws to secure legal abortion in the state.

A recent poll by 19th News found that in states that have passed abortion bans, only 13% of people were in favor of the restrictions. And nationwide, only 10% of people think abortions should be illegal in all cases, and in states with total bans, only 52% of people support them.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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TTM note: DOJ PC regarding a national security matter. Scheduled for 1:30, but still waiting as I type this.....





It's China, and involves a DOJ double agent and a PRC-based company and PRC agents and technology, as well as trying to force a dissident to return to China.
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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DOJ Unseals Investigation And Indictments Of Chinese Entities Engaging In Espionage And Coercion...

PvtJarHead

ScreenshotDOJPressConference.png


Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice have had a lot on their plate the last couple of years investigating and prosecuting an insurrection and coup attempting to overturn our democracy and a criminal former president with no regard for the U.S. Constitution, historical norms, or national security.

Today we learned that they’ve also been investigating individuals working for and with the Peoples Republic of China and a Chinese telecommunications company for attempts to obstruct US criminal investigations of their criminal activity and coerce Chinese citizens living in the US.

Complaint and Affidavit

Department of Justice

A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging two People’s Republic of China (PRC) intelligence officers with attempting to obstruct a criminal prosecution in the Eastern District of New York. The defendants remain at large
According to court documents, Guochun He, also known as “Dong He” and “Jacky He,” and Zheng Wang, also known as “Zen Wang,” allegedly orchestrated a scheme to steal files and other information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York related to the ongoing federal criminal investigation and prosecution of a global telecommunications company (Company-1) based in the PRC, including by paying approximately $61,000 in Bitcoin bribes to a U.S. government employee who the defendants believed had been recruited to work for the PRC, but who in fact was a double agent working on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Matthew G. Olsen, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and Christopher Wray, Director, FBI, announced the charges.

“Today’s complaint underscores the unrelenting efforts of the PRC government to undermine the rule of law,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “As alleged, the case involves an effort by PRC intelligence officers to obstruct an ongoing criminal prosecution by making bribes to obtain files from this Office and sharing them with a global telecommunications company that is a charged defendant in an ongoing prosecution. We will always act decisively to counteract criminal acts that target our system of justice.”

“Far more than an effort to collect information or intelligence, the actions of the PRC intelligence officers charged in this case must be called out for what they are: an extraordinary intervention by agents of a foreign government to interfere with the integrity of the U.S. criminal justice system, compromise a U.S. government employee, and obstruct the enforcement of U.S. law to benefit a PRC-based commercial enterprise,” stated Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen. “The Department of Justice will not abide nation-state actors meddling in U.S. criminal process and investigations, and will not tolerate foreign interference with the fair administration of justice
“The mission of the FBI is to protect both the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States—and this case represents a threat to both,” stated FBI Director Wray. “By attempting to steal documents from the Eastern District of New York, intelligence officers from the People’s Republic of China threatened not just the proceedings of our criminal justice system but the very idea of justice itself. A threat to justice is a threat to the foundation of our free society, and the FBI remains constantly vigilant and committed to protecting the U.S. from these threats.”
Guochun He and Zheng Wang are charged with attempting to obstruct a criminal prosecution of Company-1 in federal district court in the Eastern District of New York. Defendant He also is charged with two counts of money laundering based upon bribe payments totaling approximately $61,000 in Bitcoin, made in furtherance of the scheme.

According to the complaint, the defendants are PRC intelligence officers conducting foreign intelligence operations targeting the United States, on behalf of the PRC government and for the benefit of Company-1. Starting in 2019, they directed an employee at a U.S. government law enforcement agency (GE-1), whom they believed they had recruited as an asset, to steal confidential information about the criminal prosecution of Company-1 in order to interfere with that prosecution. In actuality, GE-1 was working as a double agent on behalf of the FBI.

In September 2021, the defendants tasked GE-1 with reporting about meetings that GE-1 was purportedly having with prosecutors in Brooklyn at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. In written communications, the defendants said they were particularly interested in knowing which Company-1 employees had been interviewed by the government and in obtaining a description of the prosecutors’ evidence, witness list, and trial strategy.

In October 2021, GE-1 used an encrypted messaging program to send the defendants a single page from a purported internal strategy memorandum from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York regarding the Company-1 case. The document appeared to be classified as “SECRET” and to discuss a plan to charge and arrest two current Company-1 employees living in the PRC.[1] Guochun He responded that the document was “exactly what I am waiting for” and that he was “waiting for the feedback from some guys” about whether there were any questions about the document. Guochun He then paid GE-1 approximately $41,000 in Bitcoin for stealing that document.

GE-1 also asked the defendants for any feedback about the “SECRET” document. In November 2021, Guochun He stated that “[Company-1] didn’t give me specifically feedback now yet, but they are obviously interested in it, and my boss and they need further information.” Guochun He further told GE-1 that “[Company-1] obviously will be interested” in GE-1 stealing another part of the strategy memorandum, and “maybe will offer more” for that information. In December 2021, in response to a further request by GE-1 for feedback or guidance from Company-1 about “what they want me to get,” Guochun He explained that “they didn’t give me any positive feedback yet, and demanded to communicate with you directly.” Guochun He said that he refused Company-1’s request to speak directly to GE-1 because “it’s too dangerous.”
More recently, in late September 2022, Guochun He told GE-1 that he intended to provide GE-1 with additional payment in Bitcoin for the information GE-1 had provided, because Guochun He’s “organization already decided to give a good reward to you.” Guochun He subsequently, in October 2022, paid GE-1 approximately $20,000 in Bitcoin.

10 of 13 individuals charged today are Chinese Intelligence Officers…

The Guardian

Two Chinese intelligence agents have been charged with attempting to disrupt the prosecution of a Chinese telecommunications firm, US attorney general Merrick Garland has announced.
While he did not name the company, the Associated Press reports it is likely Huawei, the giant Chinese manufacturer of cellphones, routers and other communications devices.
“Over the past week, the justice department has taken several actions to disrupt criminal activity by individuals working on behalf of the government of the People’s Republic of China,” Garland said in a speech.

He announced charges against “two PRC intelligence officers with attempting to obstruct influence and impede a criminal prosecution of a PRC-based telecommunications company.”

Associated Press

The two men, Guochun He and Zheng Wang, are accused of trying to direct a person with the U.S. government whom they believed was a cooperator to provide confidential information about the Justice Department’s investigation, including about witnesses, trial evidence and potential new charges. One of the defendants paid about $61,000 for the information, the Justice Department said.
The person the men reached out to began working as a double agent for the U.S government, and his contacts with the defendants were overseen by the FBI. At one point last year, prosecutors say, the unnamed person passed to the defendants a single-page document that appeared to be classified as secret and that contained information about a purported plan to charge and arrest Huawei executives in the U.S.
But the document was actually prepared by the government for the purposes of the prosecution that was unsealed Monday, and the information in it was not accurate.

USA Today

Three cases were filed in New York and New Jersey, including:
  • Seven Chinese nationals – two of whom were arrested on Thursday in New York – were charged with participating in a scheme to force the repatriation of a Chinese national living in the United States. The charges include surveillance and engaging in a campaign to harass and coerce the U.S. resident under a campaign known as “Operation Fox Hunt.”
  • Two Chinese intelligence officers were charged Monday with attempting to obstruct a criminal prosecution in New York. The defendants remain at large. They were charged with trying to steal confidential information from a global telecommunications company.
  • Four Chinese nationals, including three Ministry of State Security intelligence officers, where charged Monday in New Jersey for allegedly taking part in a long-running intelligence campaign targeting U.S. individuals to act as agents of China.

CNN

It is not clear if He and Wang have been arrested.
When the investigation into Huawei began, the two allegedly asked the official for information about witnesses, trial evidence, and new charges that could be levied against Huawei. In exchange, the US official was given thousands of dollars in cash and jewelry, prosecutors say.
He and Wang have continued to pay the US official for information, according to court documents, sending thousands of dollars in Bitcoin payments as recently as last week.

As the Huawei investigation progressed, He and Wang allegedly increased their efforts to interfere in the prosecution against Huawei. According to charging documents, He and Wang asked the law enforcement officials to tape prosecutors during trial strategy meetings so that they could share non-public information with Huawei.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Clarence Thomas protects Lindsey Graham from testifying before special grand jury in Georgia—for now

Rebekah Sager

In one of the more bizarre pieces of news out from the U.S. Supreme Court to date, Monday, Justice Clarence Thomas unilaterally agreed to temporarily freeze Sen. Lindsey Graham’s order to testify before the Fulton County, Georgia, special grand jury investigating efforts by former President Donald Trump and others to unlawfully influence the outcome of the 2020 election in the state.

Thomas has jurisdiction over the lower court, CNN reports. The response was likely given in order to give the Supreme Court justices more time to review the case. The Georgia court has until Thursday to offer a response.

The South Carolina senator has done everything he can to avoid testifying to the special grand jury. In an Aug. 24 brief, Graham reasons that the subpoena is invalid based on a rarely used section of the U.S. Constitution.

“The Constitution guarantees that a Senator ‘shall not be questioned’ about his protected ‘Speech or Debate’—and yet the District Attorney insists that Senator Graham must submit to questioning to ascertain whether he can be questioned or is immune from questioning. That makes no sense,” Graham’s motion reads.

Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis has written that Graham’s testimony is vital to interpreting “a multistate, coordinated plan by the Trump campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere,” The Washington Post reports.

Lower courts have argued that Graham’s calls to Georgia election officials were simply done in good faith for congressionally certifying President Joe Biden’s win, according to CNN.

The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals retorts that “communications and coordination with the Trump campaign regarding its post-election efforts in Georgia, public statements regarding the 2020 election, and efforts to ‘cajole’ or ‘exhort’ Georgia election officials” are not legislative activities protected by the Speech and Debate Clause.”

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern says Thomas’ move is “not unusual”



What complicates (and blows one’s mind) is the role Thomas’ wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, played in order to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential win. She was so desperate, in fact, that she emailed 29 Arizona lawmakers in November and December 2020, sometimes twice.

The Washington Post reported that Thomas additionally emailed two GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin as well—Sen. Kathy Bernier, then chair of the Senate elections committee, and state Rep. Gary Tauchen—pressing them to “choose” their own presidential electors, despite the fact that electors are chosen by the voters, not MAGA insurrectionists.

After this most recent news broke, political reporter Chris Geidner tweeted, “Although likely just a temporary order, this does tell us that none of the reporting over this year has led Thomas to recuse himself in cases involving the 2020 election and efforts to overturn the presidential election results, despite his wife’s involvement in those efforts,” political reporter Chris Geidner writes.




 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ex-cop who helped hold George Floyd down accepts plea deal the morning trial was set to start

Lauren Sue

The former Minneapolis police officer who helped hold down George Floyd while ex-cop Derek Chauvin murdered him accepted a plea deal on Monday in the state case against him. J. Alexander Kueng pleaded to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in exchange for a prison sentence of 3.5 years, according to the Associated Press.

Kueng's plea is the second in the state trial against the four former officers linked to Floyd's death. Thomas Lane, another ex-cop who helped hold Floyd down, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in prison in September.

No plea deal has yet been announced for Tou Thao, the officer on Floyd’s murder scene who kept the crowd at bay. Thao reportedly told the judge it “would be lying” to accept a plea deal.

Robert Paule, Thao's attorney, said in court proceedings covered by the Star-Tribune that Thao is agreeing to a trial by "stipulated evidence" on count two only, which is aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. "This means that Thao is giving up his right to a jury trial," Star-Tribune reporter Kim Hyatt tweeted. Judge Peter Cahill will decide a verdict after reviewing evidence in the case, and he said he will have that verdict within 90 days.

Cahill said Thao’s trial—and Kueng’s as well, for that matter—was planned to begin on Monday morning, but he understands things have "taken a different course," Hyatt tweeted.



In the federal case against the ex-officers, Kueng was sentenced to three years, and Thao was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Lane was sentenced to 30 months, and Chauvin pleaded guilty to depriving Floyd of his civil rights and was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison.

Essentially the federal sentences are the same for all of Chauvin's peers on the scene, Paul Blume, a Fox 9 reporter, tweeted. Kueng's state sentence of 42 months, for which he will actually be in prison for two-thirds of, will be served concurrently with his federal sentence, Blume reported.

Kueng testified during the federal trial that he "was not a fan of police whatsoever" before he decided to join their ranks to "step up" and respond to citizens the way they deserve. He said in testimony covered by Fox 9 that he comes from a diverse family with two adopted brothers, two adopted sisters, a white mom, and a Black dad. The jury heard from Joni Kueng, Kueng’s mom, who testified that her son is compassionate and law-abiding.

Kueng testified that officers are taught to make sure the scene is secure before beginning CPR and that "there's no metric as to when safe … it's up to the officers involved," KSTP reported.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Russia isn't pulling out of Kherson—at least not yet

kos

Sunday’s report from Ukraine’s southern command was … light, announcing just seven Russian troops killed in a single counter-battery radar system. Given that the usual number is in the dozens to low hundreds, it signaled that absolutely nothing happened on that front. This is likely the reason:

wea.png


Rain and cloud cover mean everything grinds to a halt. Satellites can’t get a good look at what’s happening on the ground, and drones can’t do their work. At this point, it’s clear that Ukraine does very little without eyes in the sky. Look at this assault by the Georgian Foreign Legion on a Russian trench in Kherson—all of it tracked by drone. (Warning, it’s graphic at the end.)



Drones give assaulting forces advanced reconnaissance, they correct mortar and artillery fire, they give advance warning of any enemy counterattacks. That intelligence is just too valuable to forgo on a cloudy, rainy, and windy day.

Kherson will see more rain Tuesday and Wednesday, at the least (it might be dry Thursday and Friday in the latest forecast). Either way, expect slower movements this week.

Meanwhile, hopes that Russia was walking away from Kherson have been dashed by Ukraine’s intelligence service.



Russia has been evacuating the families of officers and Russian administrative officials, while collaborators, teachers imported from Russia (since the locals refused to teach the Russian propagandist curriculum), and Ukrainians who took Russian passports are also fleeing. By clearing out their loyalist civilians now, barges and pontoon bridges can be used exclusively for military equipment and personnel if and when the time comes to evacuate. At least, that’s the theory.

We’ve seen Russian troops heading out of the Kherson pocket on barges, and we know that conscripts are being rushed in—speed bumps if Ukraine gets serious about pushing forward again. What we don’t know is if serious combat forces are also coming in, which would make this a routine troop rotation. That would be new for Russia, and particularly surprising given the difficulty in moving gear in and out. For context, Ukraine tries to rotate its front-line troops every three days (though that wasn’t the case earlier in the war on the Donbas front.)

We
do know from multiple sources that Russian artillery has mostly ceased in Kherson, as supplying thirsty batteries becomes increasingly challenging. It would be odd to be using sparse transport capabilities to rotate troops while starving them of the ammunition they need to conduct Russian-style artillery-heavy combat action. So it’s all very peculiar. As always, the fog of war obscures much, if not all, of what’s currently happening in Kherson.

Meanwhile, we’re seeing some movement on other fronts.




We definitely see a more aggressive Ukrainian posture around Bakhmut, the site of Russia’s (really, Wagner mercenaries’) bizarre obsession. As always, it doesn’t matter if Russia captured Bakhmut. It gets them nothing strategically. Look at the map. Bakhmut is utterly irrelevant to anything.

Ffyxc3bXwAE8E2T.jpeg


Sure, it’s a transportation hub, but it’s currently offline. Sivers’k, to the north, can be supplied from Sloviansk. There are no rail lines from the easy that Russia could use to improve its logistics moving forward. And sure, it would be an important waypoint if Russia had the juice to push to Kramatorsk, but it doesn’t. Not even close.

Similarly, it makes little sense why Ukraine fights so hard for it. Look at the map of the city:

bak.png

Arrows point to river that bisects Bakhmut

A river runs through the eastern third of the city, dividing the industrial zone from the residential and commerical parts of town. All of it is flattened and in ruins, so offers little to anyone. There’s absolutely zero chance Wagner could cross that river, swelled by fall rains. Yet like Severodonetsk, Ukraine has a policy of surrendering nothing without a fight, and it sure is embarrassing that Wagner hasn’t just failed to get to the river, but has now been fully pushed out to the M03 highway, which cuts diagonally at the top right-hand corner of the map above.

Here’s what the asphalt plant, the scene of much recent fighting, looks like after Wagner was pushed out:



Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces have been pushing back northeast of Bakhmut, though with conflicting reports of success. Either way, seems doubtful Wagner can gather enough prison labor to feed their human-wave attacks at the city. While I was premature in announcing Wagner’s culmination on this front a week ago, it’ll happen soon. It’s inevitable.

And further good news, after a week of uncertainty, Ukraine announced the liberation of several new cities on the approach to Svatove, up north.



Remember that Ukraine doesn’t announce liberations until an area is secure, and its forces are further ahead. Indeed, there were reports yesterday that Ukraine was contesting the settlements of Chervonopopivka and Zhytlivka, which are to the east of the towns above. By most indications, Ukraine is now 10 to 15 kilometers from Svatove, and even closer to those high bluffs overlooking the city from its western approach. Once Ukraine takes those high positions overlooking the city, its defense is finished. Once Svatove is taken, the entire strategic calculation up north shifts dramatically. (See here for details.)

In addition to approaching Svatove, once Ukrainian forces take that road that runs north-south just west of the city (the P66), Russian troops further south in Kreminna will be in particular difficulty. In fact, Russian occupation officials have already started looting in anticipation of a strategic retreat.
 

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Robocall fraudsters who targeted Black voters plead guilty to being frauds

Walter Einenkel

Burkman_Wohl


The only real election fraud perpetrated en masse in our country over the last few decades has been by conservative operators working to legislate voter suppression laws or their satellite scam artist middle class that works to misinform, threaten, and scare people into either not voting, or believing someone is stealing elections. Two such conmen are 24-year-old Jacob Wohl and 56-year-old Jack Burkman.

Wohl and Burkman have been facing two cases for their part in creating, funding, and promoting a racist robocall campaign that targeted Black voting constituencies in New York, Michigan, and Ohio during the 2020 election cycle. On Monday, Wohl and Burkman got something of a break when the two men plead guilty in Cleveland, to a single fifth-degree felony charge of telecommunications fraud. As part of their plea deal, Cuyahoga County prosecutors dropped 14 other counts of telecommunications and bribery.

While Burkman and Wohl’s attempted defense of their actions, under the First Amendment, was dismissed easily months ago, Ohio prosecutors seem to have felt that the speediest course of action was getting this deal that includes the two losers to pay the $2,500 fine they were facing as well as agree to a charge that could result in a maximum of one year in prison. Fingers crossed!

Wohl and Burkman are still facing a similar set of charges in Michigan in a separate case, as well as a civil charge in New York, under the Key Klux Klan Act. The calls which targeted voters in Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City, and Cleveland, included claims that registering to vote could lead to debt collection, outstanding warrant prosecution, and police arrests. It was gross, and as email correspondence between the two men and others has shown, intended to be exactly as racist as it sounds.

In August of last year, the FCC handed down a $5.1 million fine against the fraudsters for not simply being racist liar dirtbags. The fine came after an investigation showed that the two scumbags couldn’t even be bothered to get the correct permissions to make any robocalls in the first place. As anyone with a phone can attest, it is hard to be so incompetent you can’t be bothered to get over the clearly low bar needed to make robocalls these days. The two men will be sentenced in an Ohio court on Nov. 29.

Here’s a reminder of one of the purposely deceitful robocalls Wohl and Burkman created and sent out to tens of thousands of potential Democratic voters.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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House progressives join the crazy #MAGA cult on Ukraine

kos

Any time you find yourself on the same side as Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Green, you might want to think hard about proceeding. In a letter to President Joe Biden, 30 House progressives want the United States to “negotiate” with Russia to end the war in Ukraine.

Given the destruction created by this war for Ukraine and the world, as well as the risk of catastrophic escalation, we also believe it is in the interests of Ukraine, the United States, and the world to avoid a prolonged conflict. For this reason, we urge you to pair the military and economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire.

This is beyond naive, stupid and irresponsible. Let us count the ways:
  • This is Ukraine’s war with Russia. The idea that the United States can waltz in and dictate terms to a foreign country would validate every accusation that Ukraine is America’s puppet, and validate tankie claims that the United States is an imperialistic power that can dictate the world order. Very ironic, indeed, from a caucus that bills itself as committed to anti-imperialism.
  • The United States and Biden, along with our European allies, engaged in a strong diplomatic effort to prevent this war from starting in the first place. A lack of Western and American diplomacy isn’t what’s keeping the war going, it’s that Russia has zero interest in anything resembling honoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity. It has literally “annexed” four Ukrainian provinces it doesn’t even occupy, along with Crimea, which it annexed back in 2014. You think Russia is going to willingly surrender territory it considers part of Russia itself?
  • Russia doesn’t honor agreements anyway. See this thread for more.
  • Russia would kill for a ceasefire right now. In fact, it is literally doing that as it targets civilian infrastructure. Russian troops are being pushed back in three (and maybe four) of the oblasts (provinces) it currently occupies. They are so bereft of armor, that it has appropriated Belarus’ old shit tanks and armored personnel carriers for itself (as well as ammunition). It is begging Iran for suicide drones, rockets, and body armor and helmets. It has mobilized around 300-500,000 Russians and is shipping them to the front lines with little or even no military training. A ceasefire would allow them to lock in current gains—gains that it is losing daily—as well as train, equip, resupply, and set up better defenses.

    In other words, a ceasefire would mark the end of Ukraine’s ability to retake its lands, and condemn its civilians behind enemy lines to rape and murder.
The letter eventually gets to its point:

The conflict has also contributed to elevated gas and food prices at home, fueling inflation and high oil prices for Americans in recent months.

Goddam gas prices are the root of evil. The day when we can get off that godforsaken dead-dinosaur juice will be the day that tyrants like Vladimir Putin and the House of Saud can no longer hold the world hostage to their depravities.

Much better use of their time would’ve been to push more loudly for a windfall tax on oil companies celebrating record profits.

Exxon alone reported a profit of $17.9 billion – the highest quarterly profit reported by any oil company in history – while Chevron reported $11.6 billion, Shell reported $11.47 billion, and BP reported $8.45 billion. These are record-shattering figures for the companies and the result of them reaping enormous profits on the backs of hardworking families.

For context, in all of 2020, Exxon had profits of $8.9 billion, and $23 billion in 2021. And here it is, earning $17.9 billion in a single three-month quarter. But sure, blame Ukrainians fighting desperately and dying for their lands and, even more importantly, for its people trapped behind enemy lines.

The MAGA crowd like Boebert, Taylor Green, J.D. Vance, and Donald Trump must be thrilled that House progressives are giving Putin aid and succor as his army desperately clings to their ill-gotten gains. They must all be thrilled that the war criminals in the Kremlin are getting support because, you know, gas prices are high. (For the record, natural gas prices in Europe are
lower now than they were a year ago, and nothing has been more directly impacted by the war than European natural gas prices.)

The letter was signed by Reps. Pramila Jayapal (WA, leading the pack), Earl Blumenauer (OR), Cori Bush (MO), Chuy Garcia (CA), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Sara Jacobs (CA), Ro Khanna (CA), Barbara Lee (CA), Ilhan Omar (MN), Ayanna Pressley (MA), Sheila Lee Jackson (TX), Mark Pocan (WI), Nydia Velazquez ( NY), Gwen Moore (WI), Yvette Clark (NY), Hank Johnson (GA), Rashida Tlaib (MI), AOC (MA), Mondaire Jones (NY), Peter DeFazio (OR), Jamaal Bowman (NY), Marie Newman (IL), Alma Adams (NC), Chellie Pingree (ME), Jamie Raskin (MD), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), Mark Takano (CA), Andrew Carson (IN), Donald Payne (NJ), and Mark DeSaulnier (CA).

Those are all great Democrats, but they are incredibly wrong on this issue. One House progressive who
didn’t sign the letter was Rep. Ruben Gallego.



Sure beats joining the MAGA caucus to give Putin what he desperately needs to get away with his murderous invasion. At a time when he’s under intense domestic and international pressure, this must have him giddy.

Watch Russian state TV have a propaganda field day with this letter.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Founder of Proud Boys at Penn State, Police use horses for crowd control

annieli

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Event got cancelled. Did it get enough publicity?



  • Students at Penn State want the administration to cancel an event with the founder of the Proud Boys.
  • The university has defended its decision by referencing the First Amendment.
  • The Proud Boys have been labeled a terrorist organization by the Canadian government.
Students at The Pennsylvania State University are demanding the administration cancel an event featuring Gavin McInnes, the founder of the Proud Boys, a far-right group, citing a "direct threat of violence to marginalized students."

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A petition created by The Student Committee for Defense and Solidarity at Penn State criticized the university for allowing McInnes on campus and using student fees to pay for the event. "Free Speech does not mean paid speech," according to the petition which has garnered over 3,000 signatures.

The event on October 24 is called "Stand Back & Stand By" — a nod to former President Donald Trump's comments about the Proud Boys during a presidential debate in September 2020 — and is hosted by the Penn State chapter of Uncensored America, a group that calls itself a free speech organization.

McInnes is the founder of the Proud Boys, a far-right group, some of whose members said they planned to "kill people" during the January 6 insurrection, according to internal emails released by the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot.....







 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Woodward's tapes of Trump reveal what we already knew: he's a damaged, nasty, ignorant piece of work

Dartagnan

This week Bob Woodward will release twenty taped interviews he made while interviewing Trump for his book, Rage, which was released in September, 2020. The ostensible reason Woodward is releasing them now is to promote an audiobook he’s created featuring those tapes. Leaving aside the fact that in doing this Woodward joins a long line of people with firsthand knowledge and access to Trump’s tenure in the Oval Office who’ve withheld critical insight and information from the public about the man’s behavior until they’ve had an opportunity to profit from it, the tapes themselves are nonetheless revealing.

Put bluntly, they reveal that everything Democrats have said from the outset about Trump’s character — or lack thereof — and his sheer pathology and disregard for anyone except himself, are wholly accurate. What is really new here is that you can hear the malice in his voice, firsthand.

In an interactive piece written for Monday’s Washington Post, Woodward includes audio snippets of those tapes, together with their transcription. He emphasizes at the outset that the printed version doesn’t do justice to the sheer malevolence that Trump displays in his responses to Woodward’s questions — specifically his tone, his volume, and his mannerisms — and he’s right. Listening provides a much clearer picture of what we were all forced to deal with for those four awful years. Because the way Trump speaks — his constant self-aggrandizing tone, his sneering self-certainty — would qualify as a caricature, taken straight from any film or representation of an organized crime mob boss.

The audio cannot be embedded here, and the Post’s article is behind a paywall so the only way you’ll be able to appreciate that — until the tapes themselves are released and (presumably) disseminated on public forums — is by purchasing a Post subscription. However, many of the quotes Woodward cites in the Post article have been publicly aired on NBC’s Sunday Morning:




Woodward had previously released segments of these interviews in September of 2020 (again in conjunction with a book release (Rage) in which he quoted these same interviews), most notably the revelation — obtained by Woodward six months before — that Trump had deliberately played down the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic (by the time Woodward saw fit to release these segments, hundreds of thousands of people were already dead, many of them due directly to vaccine denial skepticism inculcated by Republican governors seeking to curry favor with Trump). In May of 2020 Woodward had interviewed Trump’s national security advisor, Robert O’Brien, who explained how he and others had warned Trump in January of the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential magnitude. Woodward states that it was only then that he fully appreciated Trump’s “abdication of presidential responsibility.”

I then went back and reviewed Trump’s comments to me and his public statements after that Jan. 28 warning. It was clear that Trump never communicated the magnitude of the threat to the American people. It amounted to a large-scale deception and coverup.

Woodward also notes that subsequent interviews show how Trump “edited” his own statements with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, it’s not until a July 21, 2020 interview that Trump tells Woodward that he just “noticed” the virus had escalated into a global pandemic. During that same interview Trump acknowledges that — months into the pandemic — he does not yet have any plan to combat it but advises Woodward to wait four weeks and his “plan” would materialize. Trump also backhandedly acknowledges that his “plan” to combat COVID-19 was wholly tied to his electoral prospects in 2020:

You will see the plan, Bob. I’ve got 106 days. That’s a long time. You know, if I put out a plan now, people won’t even remember it in a hundred — I won the last election in the last week.

The interviews and their tone paint a clear picture of Trump’s egomania and narcissism, his complete lack of empathy or compassion to the victims of a raging virus, and his reflexive habit of demeaning and belittling anyone who disagrees with him. For example, asked whether the CIA’s assessment that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was ‘cunning, crafty but ultimately stupid,” Trump takes offense at this characterization, because no one could possibly know more about the North Korean despot than Trump, who calls him “very smart.”

Because they don’t know. Okay? Because they don’t know. They have no idea. I’m the only one that knows. I’m the only one he deals with. He won’t deal with anybody else …
The word chemistry. You meet somebody and you have a good chemistry. You meet a woman. In one second you know whether or not it’s all going to happen. ...

Woodward updates the impression he reached at the end of his prior book, Rage, in which he concludes Trump was simply “the wrong man for the job”

Two years later, I realize I didn’t go far enough. Trump is an unparalleled danger. When you listen to him on the range of issues from foreign policy to the virus to racial injustice, it’s clear he did not know what to do. Trump was overwhelmed by the job. He was largely disconnected from the needs and leadership expectations of the public and his absolute self-focus became the presidency.

The problem for Woodward, though, is that most of us recognized Trump was an “unparalleled danger” to the country years ago, and this was most visibly confirmed on Jan. 6, 2021, when he tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the U.S. government so he could remain in power, even after a majority of Americans had tossed him out of office.

Woodward emphasizes one revealing quote. When asked whether he’d prepared a speech about “law and order” himself, Trump provides an essential insight into what motivates him:

I get people, they come up with ideas. But, the ideas are mine, Bob. Want to know something? Everything is mine.

Taken in isolation, Trump’s verbal spew is alarming enough. But considering the fact that he continues to dominate the entire Republican party -- and by extension that half of the American electorate who continue to hang onto his words as if they were gospel truth -- it is nothing short of horrifying.

Putting Trump into a position where he could wield real power was the biggest mistake this country ever made. The problem is, it’s still making it

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Liberal Democrats withdraw letter to Biden that urged him to rethink Ukraine strategy​

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has withdrawn a letter, signed by 30 House liberals and sent to the White House Monday, that urged President Biden to negotiate directly with Russia to bring an end to the war in Ukraine.

The withdrawal comes a day after the letter, led by Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), triggered fierce pushback from many Democrats, as well as from Ukrainian officials, who argued it was unrealistic to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

They also worried the letter could create more pressure on Biden as he tries to sustain domestic support for the war effort, at a time when the region is heading into a potentially difficult winter and Republicans are threatening to cut aid to Ukraine if they retake Congress.

On Tuesday, Jayapal said the letter had been drafted several months ago and “released by staff without vetting.”

“As Chair of the Caucus, I accept responsibility for this. Because of the timing, our message is being conflated by some as being equivalent to the recent statement by Republican Leader [Kevin] McCarthy threatening an end to aid to Ukraine if Republicans take over,” Jayapal said in a statement.

“The proximity of these statements created the unfortunate appearance that Democrats, who have strongly and unanimously supported and voted for every package of military, strategic, and economic assistance to the Ukrainian people, are somehow aligned with Republicans who seek to pull the plug on American support for President Zelensky and the Ukrainian forces.”

Several of the letter’s signatories also walked back their support for the letter, saying it was written months ago.

“Timing in diplomacy is everything,” Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), one of the letter’s signatories, tweeted Tuesday. “I signed this letter on June 30, but a lot has changed since then. I wouldn’t sign it today.

“We have to continue supporting Ukraine economically and militarily to give them the leverage they need to end this war.”.......

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Hope Hicks, who served as former President Donald Trump’s communications director, is scheduled to have a transcribed interview with the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, a source familiar with the details told CNN.

Hicks previously had an “informal interview” with the committee, according to two separate sources, and is being called back to get her interview transcribed.

The news of Tuesday’s meeting was first reported by The New York Times. Hicks told Trump he lost the 2020 presidential election and received pushback for not believing the election had been stolen according to multiple books that came out about the final months in the Trump White House......

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Russia's leverage over Europe has disintegrated even faster than its army

Mark Sumner

GettyImages-1244151464.jpg

Don't let the guns fool you. This is a medical team visiting the residents of isolated villages right on the front line, Oct. 22, 2022.

Back in August, Bloomberg carried a piece titled “welcome to Europe’s dark, cold winter.” It warned that even if countries were able to find gas to fill their storage facilities, it might not prevent a winter filled with blackouts, business closures, and an economy in freefall. That’s because prices were soaring and “replenishing storage and reducing demand still may not be enough.”

That story as just part of a running theme that’s been going on since even before Russia rolled across the border into Ukraine. In 2021, 53% of Germany’s gas supply came from Russia. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline was a powerful economic connection directly tying Berlin to Moscow, and Nord Stream 2 was sitting there ready to open. It wasn’t just Germany. In the 2019 figures, 41% of all the natural gas in Europe came from Russia.

When Vladimir Putin said he was prepared to let Europe freeze at the beginning of September, he was only repeating a threat that had been made many times in the past. That threat has been sufficient to make politicians all over the world treat the Russian dictator with kid gloves, and to have fiscal analysts engaging in dark fantasies of closed factories and Europeans shivering in their frosty homes.

But eight months and one day after Russia began its illegal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the idea that Europe is going to "freeze in the dark" without Russian gas seems laughable. Gas storage facilities in Germany are over 97% full, well ahead of last year's status. That gives the nation a significant buffer against any market disruptions.

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Germany’s gas storage this year is much higher than it was at any time last year.

Across the entire E.U. storage facilities are over 90% full. And even as Europe has been topping off its tanks, the actual price for natural gas has continued to fall. On Monday, prices reached a four month low, with the per megawatt hour cost dropping below $100—less than a third of cost on the day Putin made that “let them freeze” threat.


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Natural gas prices are heading toward pre-invasion pricing.

Across Europe, gas has simply not proven to be as hard to come by as many speculated at the outset of the invasion. Not only did Russia continue to supply some of this gas, other sources opened up. That includes a rush to build new liquid natural gas facilities to support imports from the U.S. and elsewhere. As S&P Global reports, this has included a number of floating facilities that can be assembled and made ready much quicker than traditional shore facilities. Projects are reported to be “moving forward at unprecedented speed” specifically to address any lack of gas from Russia.

Even as gas has become cheaper and more available, the demand for gas has also been falling sharply. That’s because the major use of natural gas in Europe is generating electricity, and the Russian invasion has helped rush forward initiatives on both conservation and renewables that are cutting into the demand for gas. In fact, the biggest threat to renewable projects right now in Europe is … the plunging price of gas, which is making some of the counties and companies that had jumped onto making a clean break between electrical generation and gas rethink their positions.

Ironically, there’s another factor that’s cutting into the demand for Russian gas: the human-generated climate crisis. Putin should have noticed that, even in Moscow, temperatures have risen sharply in the last decades. Even as Russian politicians, and tankies on Twitter, have been rubbing their hands together contemplating the masses of Europe genuinely huddling for warmth, the fall has been exceptionally mild. So is the winter forecast.

When Russia blew up its own pipeline—an act done purely as a false flag provocation, and which is readily reparable—it shut down one pipeline that had never gone into business and another that hadn’t pumped at a level above 20% capacity in months. That explosion at the end of September was intended to renew European fears around gas and drive global prices up. It worked. For about three days. Then prices continued dropping right past where they had been before the explosion.

Of course, Russia has been selling its gas. It’s switched primarily to selling to China and Southeast Asia. But there’s a problem: Cut off from its biggest market and a pariah in the fiscal world, Russia hasn’t been in a very good position to negotiate pricing. As a result, there are articles like this one on Yahoo News noting that “China has secured Russian gas at a 50% discount until the end of this year.”

They’re not the only ones. Some nations are actually buying more Russian gas than they need, disguising it as gas from other sources (Malaysian production is up something like 200% without drilling any new wells, a miracle) and then reselling it at market prices.


But Russia isn’t getting market prices. It’s getting half of market prices. That might have been enough when those prices were through the roof, but now they’re down everywhere. Russian gas is selling dirt cheap, and without those handy European pipelines, Russia’s transportation and storage costs are up.

When it comes to the export market, Russia is a one-trick pony. Vladimir Putin broke that pony’s leg. Now, with those new LNG facilities and increasing use of renewables for electricity, he’s made sure that Russia will never again enjoy the kind of profits or political leverage it held before invading Ukraine.

...........
For a couple of weeks there, I held out pretty well. Then on Saturday I just grabbed that sinker and sank. Between official statements urging Russian personnel to leave Beryslav, Wagner group’s own Telegram channel fuming over the abandonment of Kherson, and the Ukrainian MOD confirming the evacuation of points along the front line, I went heavy into “If all of this is confirmed, it seems that Russia’s northern line in Kherson is gone” and even “the end of Russian occupation in Kherson isn’t going to be measured in weeks or months. It’s a matter of days.”

Only all those things were not confirmed. Russia did not abandon the front line in northern Kherson. Snihurivika was not liberated. Reports that Russia troops were scrambling to find a spot on a boat were replaced with other reports that Russia was actually brining in new troops to reinforce shaky positions. The dream that Ukraine was going to stroll into Kherson this week on a tidal wave of good feelings and no fighting turned out to be exactly that: a dream.

It’s enough to send me reeling all the way back to … just one day before, when I was saying this:

Take care in buying wholesale into the idea that Russia is going to surrender Kherson without an extended fight. When Ukrainian troops are being cheered along Perekopska Street and accepting flowers in Fountains Park, it’ll be real. Until then … just be cautious about anything that seems too friendly to your own position.

Man. The guy who wrote that stuff actually had some sense. Too bad he took Saturday off.

I’m trying to figure out just where things stand based on current reporting from the Kherson area, but I have a problem. A Bezimenne problem.

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What area is still Russian occupied in this area is in question

Look just a little southeast of the fortress town of Snihurivka, and you’ll find a small village called Bezimenne. But just 20km to the east, near Sukhyi Stavok, is another Bezimenne. On Tuesday, the Ukrainian general staff confirmed that Ukraine is in control of Bezimenne. It seems reasonable to assume that this is the Bezimenne on the right side of the map, because Ukraine actually liberated the town once before, only to have Russia push them out again. Confirming the liberation of Bezimenne is a very good thing, especially if Ukraine is right about points to the southeast being abandoned by Russia.

However, some military bloggers have insisted that it’s the Bezimenne near Snihurivka that has been liberated, along with another small village in the area. If that’s the case, then it would seem as if Snihurivka is all but encircled, which would be a very significant development.

For the moment, I’m going with the Bezimenne on the east (how do Ukrainian postal employees keep this straight?), but I’m prepared to be wrong.

............
Kherson wasn’t the only area where Russia sources have been pushing a story that turned out to be less than true. Last week, Russian military bloggers began reporting that Russia had retaken a series of towns west of Kreminna and was “marching on Lyman.” To support this, there were even videos released showing Russian vehicles fighting several kilometers west of locations like Nevske.

As it turns out, those videos were several weeks old and were related to Russia being forced from the area around the time Lyman was liberated. On Monday, the Ukrainian General Staff confirmed Ukraine’s control of a whole string of villages along the road running down from Svatove to Zarichne. They also confirmed from new Ukrainian positions within a dozen kilometers of Svatove.

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Ukrainian forces pressing multiple points southwest of Svatove.

On Tuesday, there are reportedly battles going on at several locations close to Svatove. That includes along the road running northeast from Kovalivka and east of Novovodyane. Additionally, Ukrainian forces are reportedly pushing into the area north of Kreminna and contesting the control of towns along the P66 highway.

The scale of the fighting on Tuesday is said to be significant, with some sources indicating that they expect movement in the next few hours. So keep your fingers crossed.
............

Who is sitting in the scrap iron throne this week on Game of Drones?